Honolulu Transportation

Honolulu transportation is probably one of the first concerns you have, especially getting from the Honolulu International Airport to your hotel/apartment/dorm. There are several options to choose from, each with its own pros and cons.

And, if like me, you love to travel, I'm sure you'd want to visit the other Hawaiian islands as well. The only way to get to the neighbor islands is by air travel (unless you're an outrigger paddler or you're an avid boater and plan to buy one).

If you're wondering why there isn't a ferry service, which is a popular and expected mode of transportation, especially in between islands, we used to have The SuperFerry. It served the islands of Oahu and Maui, but unfortunately got permanently shut down in 2008.

Getting Around in Honolulu

Honolulu was named one of the nation’s Best Walking Cities in 2008. The public Honolulu transportation system isn't as sophisticated as those you'll find in major metropolitan cities, but it's decent. Its infrastructure is not bad, but road users will enjoy driving more if there weren't many potholes.

One thing you'll observe is that drivers in Hawaii are friendly and generous when it comes to sharing the road with fellow motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

Before I had my baby, I used to take the bus to get to everywhere in town – to work, to the mall (and the outlet mall!) and to the beach. I’d often walk too – it certainly beats standing in a crowded bus during rush hour on the way home! Besides, we have great weather in Hawaii; why not enjoy it for my wind-down time and my daily exercise – win-win-win!


TheBus is currently the most reliable and cheapest mode of Honolulu transportation, and has been the only mass transit system to be awarded the title of America's Best Transit System twice. It has an extensive network and serves the whole island of Oahu. You can purchase monthly passes (at 7-11 or Foodland), which is economical if you take the bus everyday. What's more, you can use Google to find out which bus(es) will take you to your destination, how long the journey will take and when the next bus will arrive. Very handy if you don't have a car.

Then there's the metered taxi if you need to go somewhere in a hurry and don't have a license and/or a vehicle (or a friend) to get you there. There are a few taxi companies on the island and you can call them to pick you up (no additional charge) instead of waiting by the road.


Riding a bicycle is a cheap and effective method of Honolulu transportation. However, you’ll see that theft of bicycle parts is quite common, so make sure you have secure bicycle parking. My front wheel was stolen when the thieves observed that my bicycle was “abandoned” (for all intents and purposes it was, because I got lazy!) And if you’re a cycling enthusiast, there are great trails on the island for you to explore!

A quicker method is riding a moped (pronounced “mo-ped”, 2 syllables), aka a scooter. You’ll see that theft of mopeds is quite common too, so you'll also need secure parking and theft deterrents. My friend Mark's brand-new moped was stolen… and decided to upgrade to a car.

A much quicker (and safer) method is driving. If you already have a driver’s license from your country, you’re allowed to use it in Hawaii for one year upon your entry (however, you’ll need proof of date of entry, i.e. your passport.)

Getting your Driver's License in Honolulu

It may be a good idea to take driving lessons to familiarize yourself with driving on the opposite side of the road and Hawaii's driving laws and regulations, before applying for your driver's license.

Here's a quick rundown on what to expect if you're applying for your driver's license here in Honolulu.

It wasn't too long ago that I got my Hawaii driver's license - success on my 3rd attempt! If at first you don't succeed, try, try again... right?

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